The results of our recent visit to the Vance Harmon dog park in Poinciana.

Dog Park Check - Vance Harmon: March, 2021

This is one of the nicest parks around. It is handicapped accessible, has a wonderful shelter, has nice paved paths, and seems well kept. We really think this park is an excellent addition to the community. There was a lot of poop here, though! We normally try to take a sample from as many piles as possible, but filled three bags before we stopped.  There were many more piles we were unable to take samples from!  Please make sure you’re cleaning up after your pets or this great part of our community could become a nightmare!

Vance Harmon Dog Park

Fecal Float – nothing present (hookworms have been found in the past and are likely still present)

Direct – Clostridium, spirochetes found

Recommendations -

What your pet needs to be their safest at the Vance Harmon Dog Park –

  • Be up to date on vaccinations including rabies, distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, leptospirosis, and Bordetella.  You may wish to ask your veterinarian if the canine flu vaccine is recommended.
  • Heartworm protection mosquitos are definitely present in EVERY dog park.  Mosquitos carry heartworms which can cause significant health problems for your dog!   We usually recommend HeartGard or ProHeart products.
  • Flea and tick protection – fleas and ticks are common when outdoors.  They can also be carried by other dogs which share the dog park.  They can live on plants, tunnels, and play items just waiting for your dog to come by!  We usually recommend NexGard.
  • Fresh water in a clean bowl – Most of the dog parks we visit have a source of clean, fresh water.  That’s fine, but we recommend using a clean water bowl and not any which might be present.  This will help minimize any exposure to Coccidia, a common microscopic parasite which can cause severe diarrhea.  We have FREE collapsible bowls at the hospital.  Stop by and pick one up!
  • Attention – Dogs not only enjoy interacting with their favorite humans, but need that attention to make sure they don’t get in to other trouble!  Among other things, pay particular attention to what they’re putting in their mouths or eating, when they’re around other dogs, and when they’re around possible points of escape/egress.


POOP: We were disappointed by the amount of samples we were able to collect. In fact, we actually were unable to collect samples from each pile before our sampling bags were filled.  We even filled an extra bag!

HOOKWORMS: Hookworms were not found this time, but have been found in the past. Hookworm eggs can survive in the soil for years so once they are present, they will always be a threat! Hookworms can be prevented with products like HeartGard, Sentinel Spectrum, or ProHeart 6. Having your dog on a preventative is important! Hookworms can be spread to humans! For more information, give us a call.

SPIROCHETES:  There are many types of spirochetes, spiral-shaped bacteria.  One of the most problematic is Leptospirosis (see below).  Other spirochetes can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Without doing a culture, we cannot confirm which exact type it is.  Dogs can get these from contaminated water or soil.  With the exception of Lepto, the only way to prevent them is not to come in contact with them in the first place.

CLOSTRIDIUM: This is a bacteria which is found in healthy pets and humans, but can cause sickness and illness too.  In fact, this is the bacteria family behind botulism, gangrene, and food poisoning!  In dogs, it usually causes diarrhea (sometimes bloody) needing a veterinarian to help cure.  It is suspected that 15-20% of diarrhea cases in dogs are clostridium related.  Dogs come in to contact with it by eating contaminated fecal matter or contaminated soil.  As with the spirochetes, we’d need to run further tests (a PCR panel looking for the genes) to know exactly which type we’re dealing with.  However, the sample was from a very “soft” pile so there is a strong indication that it is a type which causes diarrhea.  Like Spirochetes, the only way to prevent clostridium is to avoid it.  

DOGGIE DRINKING FOUNTAINS: While we have posted concerns with the water vessels at the other dog parks, we have no concerns with the drinking fountains here! These are some of the nicest doggie drinking fountains we’ve seen! Their design prevents the drains from being easily plugged so contaminated water can easily flow away. There are also two of them on both sides of the park! Wow!

Unlike some of the other area parks, there are no bowls at this park holding contaminated water. We hope that continues! Such bowls can easily hold water borne diseases like Leptospirosis and Coccidia. Should these bowls appear, we strongly suggest not allowing your pet to drink from them. Draining them in to the grass and turning them over would prevent dogs from sneaking drinks. Do not empty them in to the drinking fountain as it may contaminate it.

Leptospirosis is spread by wild animals and can easily be passed to dogs. A simple vaccine can prevent it! This vaccine is usually included in the full vaccine series. (Remember that the vaccines need to be updated yearly to be effective.)  Dog owners should take precautions and keep their dogs up to date on vaccinations!  This is an easy one to prevent!

Coccidia is also spread by wild animals, but there is no vaccine for it. When dogs are exposed to Coccidia, it can cause intestinal issues including diarrhea. The only way to prevent Coccidia is to prevent your dog from being exposed to it. Use clean bowls and fresh drinking water. We have FREE collapsible water bowls available at the hospital if you’d like one! We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the Leptospirosis vaccine and/or Coccidia treatment.

HEARTWORMS: Mosquitos are likely present and are present just about everywhere in Florida. Mosquitos carry heartworms which are VERY present in the local area. We have a lot of patients who are heartworm positive which can have a significant negative impact on quality of life and life expectancy! Heartworms can be easily prevented with products like HeartGard, Sentinel Spectrum, or ProHeart 6. For more information about Heartworm prevention, give us a call!

Prevention is the best strategy to keep your pet happy and healthy! Give us a call so we can ensure your pet's well-being before they head to the park!

ACORNS: Oak trees can drop lots of acorns. There are several beautiful oak trees providing shade to the park. Unfortunately, dogs like to eat acorns and these can make them sick. In fact, acorns can be toxic in larger quantities. Even single acorns can become an obstruction in the body and cause health issues. Much like mosquitoes, acorns are a fact of life in Florida. Again, it is important to monitor your dog to prevent eating acorns.

METHODOLOGY: We ran 3 samples randomly selected from the specimens we collected. With each of the randomly selected samples, we did a fecal float checking for parasites. We also randomly selected one sample for a direct screen for bacteria and other microscopic issues.


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The results of our recent visit to the Vance Harmon dog park in Poinciana.